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Alexis K.





How does the path to becoming a plastic surgeon differ from that of a general surgeon?

Recently, I've been intrigued by a fascinating and controversial career: plastic/reconstructive surgeon. How does the path toward becoming a plastic surgeon differ from someone aspiring to be a general surgeon? And what does this journey entail? It has always haunted me on whether there is any initial difference between the two career paths or does this difference occur later on in residency?
Alexis K.
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4 answers

Any medical specialty is usually a long haul, which rewards persistence and flexibility. General surgery requires 5 years of general surgery residency, after 4 years of medical school. To specialize in a surgical specialty such as plastic surgery, there is another 3 year (usually) fellowship after the general surgery residency. Some programs may vary I believe. At each step, you need to apply and be accepted - medical school, surgical residency program, and plastic fellowship. But at each step you gain a lot of experience which helps you develop a greater enthusiasm for you goal, or sometimes change it to another goal. I am not a plastic surgeon, but talking directly to someone who is, and finding out what they like and dislike about their job, will help you see if it is a good fit for you. Perhaps even getting a job /volunteering to work in the office would help you see what it is like. If they work with you, then they may also be able to be a reference or offer advice for you to advance your career goals.
Last updated Sep 02 '17 at 04:16 PM
Many types of surgeons become plastic surgeons by narrowing the field of expertise, gaining additional skills at workshops, learning from other physicians. E.g., an ENT surgeon may become a "plastic surgeon", limiting his practice to the face and neck. An ophthalmologist may do similarly. A dermatologist who is aggressive with excision of lesions might become a facial plastic surgeon. None of these surgeons will be eligible to become certified by the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive surgery, however. Only a general surgeon, or one who has done enough general surgery, and who then completes a fellowship in plastic surgery (2-3 yrs additional) can do that So, there are many paths to "plastic surgeon" and many types of surgeons call themselves "plastic surgeons". I would not feel good about an ENT surgeon doing an abdominoplasty if he hadn't done a few years of general surgery residency.
Last updated Sep 27 '17 at 12:01 AM

There are several different paths into plastic surgery. All involve doing some amount of time in general surgery. You will have time to figure out the different paths when in medical school. Good Luck!

Last updated Mar 19 at 12:50 PM
a General Surgeon for the most part does alot of Bowel Cases and anything to do with Biopsy and Cyst in the body. Plastic Surgeon do reconstructive surgery such as nose jobs and Breast augmentation. On the money spectrum, Plastic surgeon make alot more money since the surgeries they do are out of pocket expenses and insurance doesn't not cover them.
Last updated Sep 02 '17 at 03:31 AM
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